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Roger Federer has suffered his earliest-ever exit from the Halle grass-court tournament in a brutal blow to his dreams of a fairytale title at Wimbledon.
A 10-time winner in Halle, Federer crashed out in the second round on Wednesday in a 4-6 6-3 6-2 loss to 20-year-old Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime.
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The 39-year-old squandered a one-set lead, losing in one hour and 44 minutes against a player who is 19 years younger to the day.
"It's amazing, for sure I didn't expect this," Auger Aliassime told Eurosport after beating one of his heroes at the first attempt on the ATP tour.
"I wanted to win, but Roger Federer is my idol and it was a huge honour to play him.
"I always thought he would be gone by the time I joined the tour.
"I was a little nervous when I realised I could win, but I was playing really well, almost perfect tennis."
The pair share the same birthday of 8 August, but the 19-year gap in ages was the biggest Federer has faced in any of his 1,521 career matches.
The loss comes as a brutal blow to Federer's preparations for Wimbledon - his favourite grand slam which starts on June 28.
The 20-time grand slam winner, who turns 40 next birthday, has rarely played this year after double knee surgery and has said he is targeting a fairytale run at Wimbledon.
The Swiss legend pulled out of the fourth round of the French Open last week to give himself extra rest and prepare for the grass-court season.
Halle is his traditional grass-court warm-up event before Wimbledon and he won the tournament played near Bielefeld for the 10th time in 2019.
As the 2020 tournament was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Federer was the defending champion in Halle.
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Auger-Aliassime blasted down 13 aces and earned 15 break points, of which he managed to covert just three.
Federer, who had said he needs 10 games to prepare for Wimbledon, won the first set with ease but struggled from there on.
He soon started to labour in the second set as Auger-Aliassime converted his fourth break point to go 4-2 up, then served out to level the match at one set all.
It was one-way traffic in the deciding set as Auger-Aliassime broke Federer to take a commanding 3-0 lead and eventually converted the first of his three match points.
Tennis fans were left stunned by Federer's shock loss, with many left wondering if we're seeing the final matches of his storied career.
In the quarter-finals, the Canadian will play American qualifier Marcos Giron, who later beat Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff 6-7 (1/7), 6-3, 6-4 in their second-round match.
With Federer out, it means Germany's Alexander Zverev and Russia's Andrey Rublev are the only seeds left in the Halle draw.
Rublev is into the last eight after beating Jordan Thompson of Australia 6-4, 6-4 in 86 minutes.
Auger-Aliassime is hoping to win the first ATP title of his career in Halle after losing all of his last eight finals, including last week's grass court tournament in Stuttgart.
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